Appeals court rules Batmobile is a "character" and is copyrighted by DC

Right, just like every other ruling involving a copyrighted vehicle, character, or creation.

Not really. For example, the makers of the “Grand Theft Auto” series can put cars like this in their game without paying royalties to Lamborghini, because it’s not an exact replica of any existing car. It’s clearly inspired by the design of the Lamborghini Gallardo, but as long as the game doesn’t refer to it as such then nobody can sue over it.

But with this recent court ruling, you probably couldn’t get away with selling any video game that featured a black car with an afterburner and bat-fins even if it wasn’t an exact replica of any existing Batmobile or made any explicit reference to DC comics. That’s the difference.


Well, I don’t think that’s entirely correct. One of the axioms in law is “Anybody can sue anybody for anything.” Now, whether Lamborghini has a case with regards to how the car is rendered, and how Fair Use would apply, and whether Lamborghini would win such a case is a matter for the courts and the amount of money Lamborghini is willing to pay its lawyers. We also don’t know what arrangements GTA made with Lamborghini but I would guess GTA either made an arrangement with Lamborghini to use a rendering of the car as long as it has no identifying logos, or did so with advice from GTA’s lawyers, similar to how Disney removed the VW logos from Herbie in The Love Bug.

Again, I don’t think that’s entirely correct. In such an example, Fair Use would probably apply.

And it even has Lambo badges.

Not quite. Just similar enough that everyone knows it’s supposed to be a Lamborghini while retaining enough differences to avoid legal entanglements. And of course there are dozens of other vehicles / manufacturers treated in similar ways in the GTA games. For example, instead of a Piaggio-manufactured Vespa scooter you can ride a “Faggio” (and don’t tell me that was something the company signed off on).

While @M_Dub is correct in saying that Lamborghini could try to file suit against Rockstar Games I doubt that they’d get a ruling in their favor. Fair Use probably would apply, but it sounds like this court ruling is setting a different standard for anything smacking of a Batmobile.


That works better.

Those who support a strong copyright system would agree with you in principle, but might argue that 30 years in this day and age of extended lifespans is a bit conservative. Looks like they are lobbying for copyright to run from date of creation plus 300 years now?

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I think we should have a graduated system where you have absolute control over every aspect of your copyright for maybe 3-5 years, then limited fair use for the next 5, something similar to what we have for the next 10, lose some control but still collect mechanical royalties for the next 15, just get attribution for the 30 after that…

As a consumer or secondary creator, all you’d need to know is the original copyright date to know what you can and can’t do with it…


Or to count as satire.

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DC will probably copyright Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane next and send out notices to everything that cannot be seen to stop not being seen.


Suing over someone selling kits to make your car resemble a 60 odd year old television prop design might be counterproductive seeing as how comic books are very much loyalty fan driven enterprises.


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